AMC‘s Fear The Walking Dead Sicut Cervus TV Show Review. Fear the Walking Dead, Season 2, Episode 6: ‘Sicut Cervus,’ was a somewhat disappointing end to a promising journey, but could have been a promising window into what comes next. Unfortunately, that hinges on what the showrunners have in mind for specific characters, and how the episode’s major twist will play out.
Okay, I’ll just come out & say it: the plot twist to this episode came right out of TWD. I was really hoping for a red herring – something fans of the original series would instantly recognize being used as bait for a switch – but….
When Strand’s (Colman Domingo) plan hit a snag, getting into Mexico, the loss of another useful character hinted at something sinister to come. Without going into the irony of Catholic eucharistic practice, near simultaneous events – near Strand’s destination, and leading up to the loss of yet another potent character – seemed to suggest dark magic in the air.
If only it were that ridiculous.
What greeted the crew of the Abigail was sanctuary; but there’s always a ‘but.’ I had hoped for a more original caveat, but there was more to the episode than this particular development.
With much of the cast taking the time to focus on family issues, Daniel (Rubén Blades) was left as the only one with his guard up – even as circumstances left him confronted by old demons we were only given a glimpse of.
I hate to say it, but as touching as it was to watch Strand slowly lose all that he had been striving for, I sort of looked forward to him getting past it. Part of my appreciation for the character has been his serving as a counterbalance to all the family unit melodrama. Additional dimension is always welcome, sure; but there were still plenty of acts, to the family circus, to sit through. His ultimate decision was plot driving reckless; but there was a lot of questionable character turns to be had.
Introduced as the hardest working character of the series, Travis (Cliff Curtis) has been reduced to the clueless dad, of late; and having him point out a degree of double standard, to Madison’s (Kim Dickens) concerns over Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie), only drew attention to just how repetitive the family unit melodrama has been.
Maddie throwing dirty looks at anyone who bonds with her son is getting old. Yeah, I get it, they went through hell to get him back from the junkie heap, and she’s wary of bad influences; but considering that he has been becoming more useful, as a direct result of some of this influence, her posturing seems not just unnecessary, but regressive.
Becoming less useful seemed to be where Chris was headed; but a clearer, more disturbing direction looks to be taking shape. I appreciate there now being a touch of the psychotic to his emotional instability – as it actually makes his character worth watching (out for) – but something meaningful has to come of it.
If the showrunners keep moving Chris along the Shane scale, there’s going to be a point where there either has to be a reckoning or a redemption. Personally, I’m holding out for a reckoning – not because I hate the character (I do), but because it would be the kind of bold turn the series could really use. Shane’s fate was still a shock to many, as his fan favorite status cast doubts about where his crossing various lines would lead. Chris has no such fan-base; so I imagine coddling him would only serve the sentiments of the family circus angle. That would be a mistake.
I’m beginning to dread the notion that more useful/ likeable characters, introduced along the way, are being sacrificed for the sake of maintaining the core cast. The notion of ‘safe’ characters undermines the sense of danger such a show needs, in order to get viewers invested in its characters. With two promising characters lost, in this one episode, Celia Flores (Marlene Forte) is definitely a character to watch – I just don’t know how long she’ll be around.
The turnover rate for villains has also become a concern. The showrunners took us past the pirates in rather short order, and I don’t see a lasting role for any current Vista villain. Leaving us with nothing but episodic threats basically leaves us with nothing but the family circus. I’ve had enough of the family circus.
Kind of a shame, really. Even without the sorcery, ‘Sicut Cervus’ did provide one of the best kinds of villain: the well intentioned. This made for some effective scenes & interactions – particularly with Strand & Daniel – but that one familiar element just overshadowed everything (as did more jolts of convenience).
My inner optimist is still holding out for a red herring – that the warmed-over twist turns out to be a distraction from something bold & original to come. The fact that I’ve found myself making two references to one particular Walking Dead arc, however, really makes such a bait & switch necessary.
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